Friday, June 29, 2012

Thanks, Bruce

Many years ago I took a screenwriting class as part of my graduate degree in creative writing. It was okay. At that time I didn't really get the whole screenwriting thing. Not sure why. Maybe the story I was working on was meh. Either way, I learned the basics, then mostly forgot everything and went back to working on that novel.

A couple of years went by, and although I'd manage to plunk out several short stories, even get one published, I hadn't gotten very far on that novel.

And I never would.

That Christmas, my then-boyfriend and I both unwittingly gave each other the same present, which made for a goofy Christmas morning. It was a copy of Bruce Campbell's first book, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor. I don't know if he ever read his copy, but I flew through mine. It was the beginning of a long love for Hollywood autobiographies.

The book, if you've never read it, was basically the story of how Bruce Campbell came to have a career in this business, so it goes all the way from Sam Raimi and Evil Dead to life as Billy Zane's audition nemesis and trying to eek out a living on B movie salaries. This was before Burn Notice.

It was the Evil Dead thing that got me. They wanted to make a movie, so they did. Sam Raimi got a bunch of his friends together and they put together a story. Then they made it. It wasn't easy of course - I'm glossing over all the hard parts, but it boiled down to the idea that if you want to make a movie you make a movie.

This had never occurred to me before. You can just go write screenplays and then people make them into movies? This is a thing?

I guess it had never occurred to me before, even during my screenwriting class or all the years I'd been writing stories and watching movies. I was floored by the idea that anyone can write a movie.

First I did what every idiot like me does: I emailed Bruce Campbell and said "How do I start writing screenplays?" Thankfully, he ignored my email.

I bought a couple of format books and started reading websites. I reread the Syd Field book I'd bought for that screenwriting class, as well as the script we were required to purchase - Dead Man Walking.

Then I sat down to write. The novel I'd been working on? In a year I'd written eight pages. That day I took the same idea and I wrote TWENTY pages in the screenplay format I cranked out through Word.

I was home.

I never tried to write a novel again.

1 comment:

  1. Bruce is a great guy! I got to meet him many years ago at a Fangoria horror convention -- this was even before "Army of Darkness" -- and got to ask him a question in front of the audience. Film dork that I was, I asked him if he got to work with the Coen brothers while filming "Crimewave" (they wrote it, Raimi directed). He laughed and joked that probably one other person in the audience had even seen that movie. Then he signed my soundtrack for "Evil Dead 2". Great guy.


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.